Montmartre
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Seeing Paris from Hilly Montmartre
Within the 18th arrondissement in Paris France, high atop the city, resides the wonderfully beautiful, hilly neighborhood of Montmartre. This diverse and eclectic section of the city can be a bit busy with tourists, but the views of Paris and the splendor of the Basilica of the Sacré-Cœur are certainly worth it. Riding the funicular is rather novel, but not necessary if you're willing to climb the 300+ steps to the summit. This is an area to be explored on foot, as is nearly all of Paris. The shops, theaters, and forever famous Moulin Rouge should not be missed. The streets are intimate, the shops unique, and the overall feel of this place speaks of a youthful, colorful Paris.
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Enjoy the Show in Montmartre
Although Montmartre has become a bit touristy, it's still a special place and a must-see for all Paris visitors. Watch local artists in action as they paint portraits or check out the street performers while you munch on croissants or sip Bordeaux in a sidewalk cafe. This charming, albeit overcrowded neighborhood is more than meets the eye. If you wander through a few of this neighborhood's less popular streets you may be surprised what you can find. In addition to main attractions like the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur (which is incredible), Montmartre Cemetery is not to be missed. Montmartre has been the neighborhood that nurtured many of the best artists so it's no surprise that this is where the likes of many legendary artists like Edgar Degas are buried. This cemetery is often overlooked by visitors who have already paid their respects at Père Lachaise but they don't know what they're missing. Getting lost on the streets in this neighborhood is most rewarding but if you're looking for a great cafe in the area, look no further than Les Deux Moulins. You may recognize this bistro from the film Amelie! After you've had a bite, wander down the hill to check out the Moulin Rouge. The shows here are a bit touristy and quite pricey but if you're looking for can can dancers, there is not a better place.
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Celebrating Montmartre at the Annual Harvest Festival
What always strikes me about Montmartre, even as a local, is just how much it feels like a village of its own, bursting with proud residents and a solid sense of community. This shines broadly each year during the Fête des Vendages - the local harvest festival that champions the city's sole, functioning vineyard and dynamic local culture. From October 9-13, the festival will celebrate its 80th anniversary with a packed schedule of activities to mark the occasion, among them: guided walks, visits of the vineyard, temporary art and design exhibits, wine tastings, fireworks and concerts. This is a festival that truly ushers in the fall season for locals and makes for a wonderful opportunity to tap beneath the surface and explore this fantastic neighborhood perched on high.
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Morning Coffee in Montmartre
There are so many little outdoors cafes in Paris, and it might be a bit overwhelming to choose your pick. I always prefer an outdoor one than an indoor, as long as weather permits. Because Coffee in Paris is not just about coffee. It is also about People Watching.
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Crepes and Crepe Day
Crepes are my favorite snack in Paris (butter and sugar), and February 2 might just be my favorite day in France. It's Candlemas, La Chandeleur in French, a celebration of the presentation of Jesus at the temple. But to stomach focused France (and me) it's also “Crepe Day” and luck-determining crepe gymnastics is the activity du jour. With a coin held in the writing hand, hopefuls flip the first pancake from the pan into the air with the other. If the crepe lands back in the pan, good luck follows. If it falls to the floor, the dog is the lucky one. When I was writing my book, I met Roland, an ice cream maker and now dear friend who hails from the Dordogne region of France. He told me that his grandmother used to have him take a crepe to the chicken coop on La Chandeleur, to encourage the egg Gods to be generous. "You know the chickens only ate half the crepe,” he revealed. I leaned in, eager to unravel the mysterious will power of these French fowl. “Why?” I whispered. “Because I ate the other half on the way to the chicken coop,” he laughed. I really do love the French. And their crepes.
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Following Fred Le Chevalier's Street Art in Paris
Paris is known for its great variety of museums and Art, but there is also another kind of Art, Paris is known for, and this is the Street Art, or Urban Art. Wherever I travel, I love following and photographing the local scene of Street Art. I’ve always wanted to follow a Street Artist in REAL time, when he sprays, pastes, colors or glues his Art on the walls, and in one of my visits to Paris, I met with Fred Le Chevalier and joined him for one of his pastings. When you visit Paris and walk in the 3rd Arr, the 18th Arr, you won't be able to ignore Fred's characters. Here is some inside information about him and his Art: * He adds poetry to his characters and glues it as a signature with his name * He pastes his characters during day time * He started drawing six years ago but he has been sticking and pasting the characters on the walls, only for the last three years * He started drawing bigger characters in September 2011 and since then more people are noticing and discovering him (before that he was drawing smaller characters) * He draws new characters every day but pastes them on walls only three times a week or when he has time * He sees a wall and decides on the spot if he likes it or not * He has a few favorite walls to put his Art on: Namely in Montmartre, and in Rue Saint Merri around Centre Pompidou * Some characters he draws are based on people he knows * He sometimes tries to paste the character close to where his friends live, as a personal present
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Delectables of Montmartre
My favourite arrondissement of Paris, Montmartre, is lively and informal, buzzing with people sitting in cafes and eating the many delectables on offer. I love the old shops, confiseries and boulangeries full of the most amazing confections. Home to the 'funicular' you don't even have to walk up the steep steps to the basilica of the Sacré-Cœur, but can ride in comfort on the little train. Montmartre also boasts its own vineyard, the Clos, which auctions off its produce of about a thousand bottles during the Fête des Vendanges in October. Rockin'...
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Champagne Breakfast in Montmatre
Simon--a trilingual Parisian heard us say we'd always dreamed of a champagne breakfast in Paris. When we showed up at his flat in Montmatre he had champagne waiting. Luckily the baker near his house has insomnia and we were able to get baked goods not only for breakfast but as a midnight snack later that day.
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A Walk inside Montmartre
As music cascades from a high perched window on Rue Gabriel, I meander the streets of a world that can be likened to a paradoxe. There are little hidden gems far from the main strip. Up and around a bend in the road, Avenue Junot awaits you to entice you down towards the other half of the quartier rarely glimpsed at by the streams of tours day in and day out. Discovering backstage Montmartre is the real deal. The birds tweet and the sky is blue, even though it's January. Not only is it the artist's quartier, but it's the village that Paris didn't have. At the Musee de Montmartre you'll learn much more about how it grew to be not just a part of Paris, but perhaps the heart of it. After the pavement has had a good pounding it is a must to sit down and do little else other than enjoy a well earned coffee, perhaps at Au Petit Montmartre and watch the world go by. With the Terrasse Hotel at the end of the street for a birds eye view of Paris (only open in Summer) you will pinch yourself. The daily ritual in Paris of buying bread is easy done here too. Le Coquelicot offer organic and the only hand-milled 'Picola' baguette I have eaten. And so, the enigmatic beauty of this historic village will leave you enchanted.
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